Blood transfusion through the eyes of different religions

Blood and Organ donation are probably two of the noblest acts any person can do. When you donate 1 pint of blood, you are saving 3 lives. Organ donation is something that both the living and the dead can do. Transplant an organ to a relative, a friend or a complete stranger extends lives- a very heroic act not all would wholeheartedly do. We have heard and read stories of how lives were saved because of people who went an extra mile of love to donate blood and organs. It is a wonder that there are groups of people from different beliefs around the world who regard blood and organ donations as something that is unnatural?

We live in a world divided among culture, language and belief all because we live in different parts of the world. There was a news story on how a couple had dilemmas while considering blood transfusion to save their daughter’s life: to use the procedure or to lose favor in their church. Reading about similar stories make me wonder, at the cost of saving a life, can’t differences be set aside?

I came across this image on the Internet several days ago and it was one thing that made me try and look if it were true. Technically, the phrase on the image was a metaphor which reminds people of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made for the sake of all. Since blood transfusion and donation had not been around in those early days, the phrase is about receiving a lease on life by the blood of Jesus.

Red Cross First Blood Donor

He is the Original Blood Donor Ephesians 1:7

Though biblical in nature, the phrase made me wonder how different religions see blood donation in this day and age.

The Anglicans find organ donation and transplantation as acceptable because they believe that sacrifice for others reflects the Christian principle of interdependence within the human community.

The monotheistic religion Baha’i Faith also supports donation and transplantation because there is nothing in the Baha’i teaching which prohibits donation.

Baptists, Catholic Church, Greek Orthodox Church, Hinduism, Unitarian Universalist and Religious Society of Friends allow medical procedures like transplants because it is seen as an act of charity and giving of human organs can alleviate the suffering of others.

For some religions, it took them time to reconcile their beliefs and religious tenets with medical breakthroughs and technology. The Islam used to forbid organ donation, but in 1983 the Moslem Religious Council reversed its position- as long as donors provide a written consent before their death. The Muslims allow blood and organ donation under three rules:
Rule 1- It causes major benefit to the recipient
Rule 2- It should not have a major loss to the person donating
Rule 3- It should not be done for money.
Donations and transplants are allowed whether the recipient is a Muslim or non-Muslim. Islam faith believes in the principle of saving human life.

The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in USA launched the 2nd annual “Muslims for Life” blood drive campaign this year to honor the victims of the 9/11 attack 11 years ago. Last year, they collected 11,803 pints of blood and this year they are aim to collect 11,000 units of blood to help save as many as 33,000 lives. This annual blood drive is held to reiterate the message that Islam puts strong importance in the value of life.

The Episcopal church took a long time to pass a resolution in 1982 that recommends the life-giving benefits of blood, tissue and organ donation. Today they encourage their members to donate organ, blood or tissue as “part of their ministry to others”.

Some religions allow it while some took a while to see the benefit in blood donation and organ transplants. While there are religions that are on the fence with it and state that they leave it to the members’ individual conscience to donate or not such.

One of the oldest religions has now opted to vaguely state that Buddhists are free to donate blood or accept transplants if their conscience doesn’t bother them. The same goes for the members of Christian Science, they give a thinly veiled statement that the procedure is not the norm in their community.

Yet until now there are also religions and people who strictly prohibit blood, organ and tissue donation.

Shinto or Shintoism is a religion in Japan that forbids any form of donation or transplantation because they believe that a dead body is considered to be dangerous and impure. For them the dead body is powerful and injuring it by organ donation is a serious crime.

The Roma, whose way of life is dominated by beliefs rather than religion, opposes donation and transplantation in any form. They believe that the soul retraces its steps for one year after a person dies. All the body parts must be intact and complete because the soul maintains a physical shape.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that the bible does not allow ingesting blood. Because of this, Jehovah’s Witnesses should not donate blood or accept blood transfusions, even in emergency.
They based this doctrine upon three passages in the bible, which according to them, prohibit the consuming of blood.
Genesis 9:4: “But flesh (meat) with…blood…ye shall not eat
Leviticus 17:12-14: “…No soul of you shall eat blood…whosoever eateth it shall be cut off
Acts 15:29: “That ye abstain…from blood…

Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that blood is sacred to God and it can only be used for the atonement for sins. For them, Abstinence from blood is an act of faith which means that only the shed blood of Jesus can redeem them or save their life. In short, they cannot donate or receive blood, even in situations when a family member needs it so badly.

A member of the Jehovah’s Witness who knowingly receives a blood transfusion is believed to have committed a sin, are shunned by the members of the organization and will lose an eternal life.

While there are others who badly want to donate blood but could not do it due to blood donation policy restrictions (such as the LGBT society), there are also those who couldn’t donate and receive blood even if they wanted to due to religious doctrines. This has became a controversial issue because all people have the right to life and no religion could dictate whether you live or not.

red cross on red heart

A Blood Donor Saved My Life

We respect the beliefs of other denomination with regard to blood and organ donation, but here in BloodBanker, we stay firm with our principle that to give blood is to give love. Since blood only comes from generous donors, giving a part of yourself without expecting anything in return is the true measure of altruism.

Religion has sometimes pushed or prohibited us from doing certain things even if it is against our will. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you would imitate His way of life. He healed and saved others on Sabbath Day, even if religious people found it improper to do a thing on such day. It is in the bible that helping those in need doesn’t follow a pattern nor a schedule- Jesus did his best to heal anyone who needed it.

No matter what you believe in, if you are healthy enough to give blood or donate organs, then please do so. Doing good will never be bad-let us help save lives whenever we could.

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